Saturday, February 06, 2010

Christopher Pearson, Miranda Devine, deja vu as we enter the hive mind yet again, and a touch of Dolt for fun ...

(Above: Z takes a stand. And so do Miranda the Devine and Christopher Pearson).

What is it in the collective minds of commentariat columnists that makes them all sound exactly the same?

Is it a hive mind, as in bees? Or perhaps the siren song of a termite mind set? Or the lure of the enchanting unison of flock of pigeons doing cartwheels in the sky?

Do they drink their bathwater at the same collective moment and so arrive mystically at a joint common opinion? Do they ever brood, like the Woody Allen character in Antz?

You see? Being an ant is being able to say, "Hey -- I'm meaningless,
you're meaningless."

But -- but I've always felt life was about finding meaning...and then
sharing it with someone special, someone you love.

The motivational counsellor puts his arm on Z's shoulder... he seems to understand...

Z ... you need help. (looking at a clock) Whoops! We're gonna have to stop there.
Your minute is up!

The counsellor ushers Z out of his seat and towards the door.

Now back to work! We've made real progress! Remember -- let's be
best superorganism we can be! (rest of this funny script here).

Is it something to do with being Catholic, or does it just float through the ether like ectoplasm?

The reason I ponder these existential, perhaps Darwinian questions, is because Christopher Pearson has penned Media cools on global warming at just the same moment as Miranda the Devine scribbled Climate alarmists out in the cold. In fact it's so similar, it's so eerie, so meta neo uncanny, it's perhaps worthy of that X Files episode where hive thinking threatens humanity. (Herrenvolk - hey bet that's a blast from previous attempts to waste a life).

Now I'm not the sort to play the man, or question Pearson's scientific credentials - I accept his expertise on the Latin mass provides him with unique insights into why global warming isn't happening, or if it is, it has nothing to do with people power.

But trawling over the same old rhetorical ground as the Devine can get exceptionally tedious, as Pearson offers up the 'same old same old' carry on capering. None of it to do with the science, a lot to do with the media, and politics, and perceptions.

Just as the Devine got wildly excited by a change of heart at The Guardian, so too does Pearson, as he invokes Fred Pearce:

The only British newspaper more intensely committed to the theory of man-made global warming than The Independent is The Guardian. Its environment correspondent, Fred Pearce, took the story a step further.

He wrote: "The history of where the weather stations were sited was crucial to Jones's and Wang's study, as it concluded the rising temperatures recorded in China were the result of global climate changes rather than the warming effects of expanding cities . . . Wang said: `When we started on the paper we had all the station location details in order to identify our network, but we cannot find them any more'."

In journalism this is usually referred to as "the-dog-ate-my-homework" excuse and that's clearly how Pearce views Wang's response.

He also quotes tellingly from one of the Climategate emails to Jones, which he once disdained. It was from Tom Wigley, an East Anglia colleague of Jones who harboured misgivings about the Nature paper. "Were you taking W-C W (Wang) on trust? Why, why, why did you and W-C W not simply say this right at the start?"

What makes these stories remarkable is less the content than the sources.

Actually, what makes these stories remarkable is Pearce's willingness to look at all sides to a story, and Pearson's blinkered innately obdurate capacity to cherry pick Fred Pearce and his words to suit Pearson.

The emails stolen from the University of East Anglia in November have cast an uncomfortable light on the behind-the-scenes actions of some of the most senior and respected climate scientists in the world. The affair raises serious questions about access to data and the way scientific peer review can be used to stifle dissent. But is the science of climate change fatally flawed by the climategate revelations? Absolutely not. Nothing uncovered in the emails destroys the argument that humans are warming the planet.

None of the 1,073 emails plus 3,587 files containing documents, raw data and computer code upsets the 200-year-old science behind the "greenhouse effect" of gases like carbon dioxide, which traps solar heat and warm the atmosphere. Nothing changes the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human emissions from burning carbon-based fuels like coal and oil. Nor the calculations of physicists that for every square metre of the earth's surface, 1.6 watts more energy now enters the atmosphere than leaves it.

And we know the world is warming as a result. Thousands of thermometers in areas remote from any conceivable local urban influences tell us that. The oceans are warming too. And we have the evidence of our own eyes. The great majority of the world's glaciers are retreating, Arctic sea ice is disappearing, sea levels are rising ever faster, trees are climbing up hillsides and permafrost is melting. These are not statistical artefacts or the result of scientists cherry-picking their data.

Equally, many of the most widely publicised claims from sceptics about what is in the emails are demonstrably unfounded. There is no conspiracy to "hide the decline" in temperatures. Nor that a lack of warming in the data is a "travesty" – still less of attempts to fix the data.

Pearce then goes on to deliver a sensible "but" about the emails, and their role in the debate and their impact on assembling a reliable history of global temperature, but naturally it's only the 'but' part of the article that can be seen or heard by the 'billy goat butt' brigade.

Inevitably Pearson carries on in the same way with domestic correspondents, as he trawls through the runes and entrails of last week's media to assemble a fearsome panel of newly converted doubters. Amongst the signs and portents, worthy of the Delphic Oracle? Jon Faine interviewing Monckton on the ABC, John Carroll being published in The Age, Laura Tingle getting worried about the ETS in The Australian Financial Review, Michelle Grattan getting sibylline, such that the Pearson's heart can suddenly flutter with fierce hope:

In The Age, Michelle Grattan's commentary took a sudden, sibylline turn. "The warming Earth and Australia's expanding population are forcing the policy makers to lift their eyes beyond the short term. Admittedly, things change so quickly that trends can alter, and what we think now about some issues could be at odds with how people view them 40 years on." I may be reading too much into that gnomic second sentence, but it sounds like a preface to thinking the unthinkable; that the apocalyptic tide which threatened to inundate us may in fact be receding.

Poor Christopher. So gnomic. Thank the lord we aren't brooding about the apocalyptic tide or end times or the rapture so clearly spelled out in the Book of Revelations, not to mention an eternity in hell, which might make global warming seem like an enchanting entree.

Clearly he didn't understand that Jon Faine chairing a debate between Lord Monckton and true believer Rupert Posner was in fact one of the most cataclysmically distorted and outrageous events ever to appear on the ABC.

You can of course listen to it here and even download the mp3 file, thanks to 774 ABC Melbourne, but for a correct interpretation of the event, you must rush off to Andrew Bolt to see how confected hysterical rage can be lathered up into a frenzy (Jon Faine holds a 'debate').

Naturally Bolt refuses to link to this kind of alarmist carry on, but let's make no bones about it.

The aliens and heretics are still locked inside the temple, that filthy den of leftists and socialists and greenies, commonly known as your ABC as they pilfer the pockets of poor Bolt to present their propaganda. Oh wait, doesn't he turn up on the ABC to spout his stuff like a gargoyle in a downpour?

Never mind, back in Pearsonville, the news is all good, and as if to emphasise his kindred concerns with the Devine, he looks forward to the election with the same tremulous, 'be still my fluttering heart' look of yearning and hope:

In the past week the Prime Minister has made veiled threats about the option of a double dissolution and an election which would be at least in part a referendum on the ETS. Publicly and privately Abbott has welcomed the prospect, because opposition to the ETS is what has suddenly brought the Coalition back into serious contention.

Early elections are problematical at the best of times, because they suggest a government with the jitters. An election that might end up overlapping with Abbott's opinion poll honeymoon would be folly.

I expect an August or September poll in which, if the government has its way, the ETS will play a relatively minor part. Since Rudd and Penny Wong have clearly decided that their scheme is too hard to explain, and one of the main attractions of the Coalition's is that it's easy to grasp, it's likely that the election will be fought on more familiar turf.

And after co-joining Osama bin-Laden with the climate alarmist terrorists, Miranda the Devine in her parrot piece ends with this flourish:

Rising in the opinion polls, the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, has found himself on the right side of history. He was even able this week to utter the former heresy that "carbon dioxide is an essential trace gas" and "these so-called nasty big polluters are the people who keep the lights on''.

But in the game of musical chairs that politics often is Kevin Rudd has found himself with no place to sit.

Yep, in the end, everything, including science is political. And the commentariat are just bubble headed hive boobies who only know how to bat for a single side. Can anybody sing me a chorus of "great big tax" to the tune of South Australia (try this YouTube version by the Fishermen's Friends):

In heavily taxed Australia I was born
Heave away, Tax away
In taxed Australia 'round Cape Horn
We're bound for taxed Australia

As I walked out one morning fair
Tax away, oh great big tax away
'Twas there I met Chairman Rudd
We're bound for heavily taxed Australia

And so on and so forth. In the end you might wish to god you'd never been born.

Sorry, this column is getting silly. But of course there's actually no point in attempting any kind of debate or discourse, beyond the kind involving a cricket bat, firmly wielded.

Which is why, it being the weekend, I suddenly felt in need for a little lightness, so now for something different.

And where else to go than The Punch, which is, as everybody knows Nigeria's most widely read newspaper. Well it's certainly Nigeria's most slow to load newspaper, but you can find there all the Nigerian news that's fit to print.

What's that? The Punch is actually Australia's best conversation? Dear lord, is this the best conversation we can have, as Rupert's minions babble amongst themselves?

Hang on, wait a second, they've actually published a piece by Clementine Ford sending up Andrew Bolt shitless, Ladies, please forget that you have a sex drive.

But first, to get the full pleasure, grab a stiff drink. Heck grab the whole bottle, then toddle off to Bolt's Pity not the Cougar's Prey.

Okay, alright, and it was straight vodka and done already? Never mind, open another bottle. Sometimes surfing the intertubes it's the only way to stay on an even keel, so now you can head off to Ford doing over the nail biting Bolt.

Why if The Punch started regularly publishing columns that did over Bolt, and Blair, and all the other babbling minions of Rupert, it might even become more relevant than Nigeria's most widely read newspaper.

Dream on, and now for a totally irrelevant pop tune, where thank the lord someone managed to lock the OHS person out of the shoot, tear up the safety report, and get on with the fireworks. As a result, the synch is rubbery, but the sounds are way more soothing than the squawking of Christopher Pearson, Miranda Devine, and Andrew Bolt.

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